Things are looking up, Friartown!
Sure, things were looking shaky a few week ago.
But the PC Friars sit at (13-6) with an RPI of 40 and a Strength of Schedule of 26 as of January 16th. That’s not too shabby.
Though struggling mightily in the month of December, due to some poor play and banged up bodies, Providence finally looks to have it together.
Rough Start, Strong Finish?
Being pegged to finish 4th in a competitive Big East, by the so-called “experts” this season, gave fans a reason to believe that this team could reach a 5th straight NCAA tournament.
It’s safe to say that the out-of-conference schedule wasn’t kind to the Friars. But it also wasn’t terrible, either.
They squeaked by the likes of Belmont, Rider, Brown and Stony Brook–winning each of those games by just six or less.
Sure, it wasn’t pretty. But they got the job done.
They got good wins over Washington (RPI of 50) on a neutral court and Boston College (RPI 62) at home. Those were the two bright spots of the non-conference. (And Friar fans should root hard for those two teams to keep succeeding.) Washington owns a great road victory over Kansas, and Boston College defeated Duke early in December.
There’s nothing wrong with the Friars schedule. Yet there’s high expectations as fans have been spoiled in the past few seasons when Providence was able to pick up signature wins over the likes of URI (2016), Arizona (2015), and Notre Dame (2014), to boast of come Selection Sunday.
The start of Big East play was a bit of a roller coaster ride.
They beat Saint John’s on the road by twenty-two. Not a bad win.
They followed that up by getting blown out on the road by Creighton. They then choked away a game to Marquette.
However, they then picked up that signature win that they lacked in the non-conference schedule. They soundly defeated Xavier, who at the time was ranked #5 in the Country. That is exactly what this team needed.
A Major Victory
Since then they took care of DePaul on the road and notched another great win over Butler (the only team with a victory over number one ranked Villanova) at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Monday.
Taking care of Butler was huge for the Friars. This gives them their second best win on the season (RPI 32).
That’s key because Providence is about to take on their toughest stretch of the schedule in the next four games.
They’re home against Creighton, a team that previously blew them out on New Years eve. They then have three straight road games– Villanova, Seton Hall and Marquette.
This next stretch will not be an easy one, but if they can keep up the pace as they have over this three game win streak, they will be sitting pretty and in great position to make a 5th straight tournament appearance.
If they can do that, Coach Ed Cooley and his staff will once again deserve some serious accolades. It will be tough, but it history has taught us anything, it’s not to count out Cooley, a master motivator, and his guys, who always seem to buy in.